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Here is a link to my Monday column about the 49ers’ win over the Panthers. The full text appears below:

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The 49ers are coming. Tell that to Seattle.

Yell it from the Golden Gate Bridge, from the Transamerica Pyramid, from the new Bay Bridge. Here come the Niners.

Tell it to the National Football League and all the 50 states. The 49ers had the toughest playoff schedule you could imagine, brutal degree of difficulty. Green Bay. Charlotte. They won and then they won again, beat Carolina 23-10 Sunday in Charlotte. Strictly no contest.

So, tell Seattle the 49ers will be there next Sunday. Tell the Seahawks’ crowd. The Niners are on the move.

And they keep moving because of defense. That means there’s a 49ers paradox from the get-go. They keep moving because they keep stopping teams. They sure stopped the Panthers on Sunday, the Panthers who beat the Niners this season, beat them at Candlestick.

The 49ers moved past that, blew right on by. They keep moving.

Here is the story of the game. Call it “The Gospel According to Tough Guys.” For short, the “Tough Guy Gospel.”

You’ll love this. The Panthers-49ers game always was going to be a fight. Toughest team wins. Last man standing. The Panthers knew that and came out tough, rough and gruff. They needed to establish their street cred.

On the 49ers’ very first offensive series, San Francisco failed on third-and-6, incomplete pass. Had to punt the ball. Except Panthers’ safety Mike Mitchell hit Vernon Davis after the play. The pass wasn’t even intended for Davis. Innocent bystander. Mitchell hit Davis from the side. A sucker shot.

It’s clear what Mitchell was trying to do — establish dominance, put the fear of God into Davis, whom the Panthers knocked out of their first game. It was a coward’s play and the official saw it and called Mitchell for unnecessary roughness — 15 yards. The Niners got a first down and went on for a field goal.

The Lesson: It’s good to be tough, but it’s bad to be stupid.

The Panthers were stupid tough. Bad combo.

They weren’t done, either.

In the 49ers’ second series, Colin Kaepernick ran for 4 yards. Simple play. Get up and call the next play. It’s just that Carolina cornerback Captain Munnerlyn (I’m not making up that name) decided to head butt Anquan Boldin who was only peripherally involved in the action. Unnecessary roughness, 15 yards. The usual tough guy-stupidity combo. That led to another 49ers field goal.

After the game, Munnerlyn spoke about his penalty and, in the process, uttered one of the stupidest quotes in the history of stupid quotes: “I know earlier in the game, I had one (a penalty), but I always do it early in the game just to set the tone. That’s the type of guy I am just, try to go out there and set the tone.”

Some tone.

To summarize, the Panthers tried to act like tough guys, the tougher team — although some would call them a cheap-shot team. Then the 49ers stole their lunch money and sent them home crying. The 49ers said, without having to say it, “You tried to be tough guys. Now, watch us.”

The Panthers went on a long drive near the end of the first quarter. Nice drive. They got the ball to the 49ers’ 1. Could not drive it in on third down. Now it was the second quarter, first play of the quarter. Carolina decided to go for it. Tough guys. Fourth down Cam Newton, monster quarterback, ran straight ahead. An easy get. Touchdown. Except the 49ers stopped him dead.

Who’s tougher now?

Later in the second quarter, the Panthers went on another long drive. Again he brought the ball to the 1. Fullback Mike Tolbert couldn’t run it in from the 1 on third down. Forget about it. Lost a yard. On fourth-and-2 the Panthers blinked, cried uncle, gave in. Not so tough after all. Kicked a field goal. Could have had 14 points on those series, settled for 3. Had 10 points at that time. Never scored again. Shut out the second half.

Just how tough are you?

Listen to Niners’ defenders on the goal-line stands. Hear from nose tackle Glenn Dorsey — thoughtful, sincere, thorough. As he got ready twice for the Panthers’ push just outside the end zone, what was he feeling?

“I’m mad that we gotta get down there,” he said. “As a defense, you wanna hold them to nothing. You’re angry. You gotta make it right.”

So, it’s a feeling of moral failure. You’re angry at the other guys and you’re angry at yourself.

As Dorsey got into his stance at the goal line, he told himself. “You draw your line. You draw the line where the ball is at and knock ’em back. Knock ’em back and whatever’s gonna happen gonna happen.”

The 49ers drew the line and knocked them back. You don’t get to cross.

More Dorsey: “Those were some big downs. We had our back against the wall. But we perform better like that. You want it to come down to your defense. Hopefully, we won’t be in goal line as much, but when you are, you’ve got to do your job. We stood up.”

I’m going to give you more words from the defenders. It’s usually the offensive players who have the last say — Kaepernick, Boldin, Davis. In this game, the defenders earned the words.

Donte Whitner on those two stands: “They’re not in until they’re in. We understand they had a couple of good drives. But our front seven they really wanted to show they were the most dominant front seven in the National Football League and they did.”

Did the game turn then?

“I do think the game turned. Those were two big stops. And you expect a good running football team like that to get at least one of those in the end zone, but (our) guys came and penetrated.”

Ahmad Brooks, who played middle linebacker on the two stands — he usually is outside linebacker: “I play middle linebacker in the goal-line defense. That was something everybody got to see. I’m happy. I’ve been that all my life until playing in the NFL. Playing middle linebacker it felt good to be out there.”

Proud. Tough. Tougher than the Panthers.

Here is Jim Harbaugh on the goal-line stands: “Facts are stubborn things. You keep them out of the end zone on the goal line that is a statement.”

Fact. Statement.

You should know this. The Panthers moved nicely into 49ers’ territory in the second half. The first time, the Niners sacked Newton twice in a row: NaVorro Bowman, Brooks. Punt.

Who’s tougher?

Late in the fourth quarter, Newton threw a pick to Whitner.

In the press box, 49ers’ general manager Trent Baalke whispered, “Go down, Whit. Go down.”

Meaning the game was over. Don’t take a chance and fumble.

That pick was the killer blow, the death blow.

Best Niners win this season. By far. Here they come.

For more on the world of sports in general and the Bay Area in particular, go to the Cohn Zohn at cohn.blogs.pressdemocrat.com. You can reach Staff Columnist Lowell Cohn at lowell.cohn@pressdemocrat.com.


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Comments

25 Comments

  1. Stan

    Just as I predicted. And,the game ended an hour before my obligations..perfect. I got to see my call nailed down.

    January 12th, 2014 7:30 pm

  2. parnell

    Perhaps Harbaugh and Baalke know what they’re doing?

    Lowell Cohn, September 26, 2013:

    That brings us to Harbaugh. He depends heavily, desperately on three old players — old by NFL standards — three players Walsh and Seifert would have given the standard-issue gold watch and sent on their way.

    The players are Frank Gore, 30; Anquan Boldin, 32, and Justin Smith, 34. Harbaugh has overestimated the shelf life of these men as dominant players, and he hasn’t shown the proper urgency to bring in replacements. A coach and general manager must think two years ahead. Harbaugh and Trent Baalke are lost in the moment.

    At Harbaugh’s weekly news conference, I asked if it’s a mistake to rely so much on three older players.

    “They’re pretty darn good guys to rely on,” Harbaugh said.

    “So, it’s not a mistake,” I said.

    “No.”

    Really? The three old players are good, but each is on the back slope of his career. Walsh would have eliminated them.

    January 12th, 2014 8:11 pm

  3. CohnZohn

    Parnell, Let’s see you put yourself on the line.

    January 12th, 2014 8:14 pm

  4. B-Rad

    “So, tell Seattle the 49ers will be there next Sunday.”

    They probably know that.

    usatoday.com…………………JAN12, 2014

    “Tickets go on sale Monday, but the Seahawks are restricting sales to fans
    with billing addresses in Washington, Oregon, Montana, Idaho, Alaska,
    Hawaii, and the Canadian provinces of British Columbia and Alberta.
    Fans with billing addresses in California will have to resort to secondary
    market services like StubHub, where the cheapest available ticket is
    currently going for $459.”

    I have to admit to being totally blindsided by their sliminess, though I
    shouldn’t have been surprised since the head Sleezehawk is Pete
    Carroll, formerly the head coach of the only BCS championship football team
    in history to have it’s championship vacated.
    The reason? THEY WERE EFFIN’ CHEATERS!!! Looks like he’s
    brought all of his skills up north with him.

    January 12th, 2014 8:17 pm

  5. Gopal

    Dorsey and McDonald did a great job plugging holes on those goal line stands. They deserve as much credit as anyone else for this win.

    The Niners are as hot as they could be right now. I guess we will find out soon enough if it’s enough to finally turn the tables at C Link field.

    January 12th, 2014 8:17 pm

  6. PhD

    Nice Lowell. I smile when I see you become a fan like the rest of us.

    January 12th, 2014 8:47 pm

  7. Nancy R

    I like the rah rah tone but I noticed Kaep kept missing so many of his passes in the first half; he seemed off. Sometimes he throws these missiles that are too fast and hard for the receivers. Pass firm, but nice Kaep. The defense slapped away a lot of his passes esp. in the first half. Seattle’s defense is really good at slapping away receivers’ passes so he better watch out. Kaep redeemed himself in the second half. I didn’t like him mocking Newton after his run in touchdown. Don’t fire up the oppostion. Go NIners!

    January 13th, 2014 5:12 am

  8. lameduck

    The crowd
    Will be loud.
    The game in a cloud.
    The 9ers will rise and stand proud.

    If Sunday was a prize fight albeit with Roberto Duran what will next Sunday be? Will the east coast even care?

    January 13th, 2014 6:02 am

  9. Tom T Thompson III PhD

    Agree that Mitchell’s hit on Davis deserved to be flagged. It was the very definition of unnecessary roughness. (Not sure whether you’re aware or not, but Aikman and Buck thought it was a ticky-tack call.)

    Maybe you had to be there, but Munnerlyn’s quote doesn’t strike me as stupid. Defensive players have been doing that forever, risking a fifteen yard penalty early on in order to set the tone.

    Finally, and in fairness, I think it should be pointed out that Boldin got away with a pretty stupid head butt of his own that the refs inexplicably chose to overlook.

    January 13th, 2014 9:09 am

  10. Gopal

    @Lameduck – if the Panthers were Roberto Duran, then the Seahawks are probably Hagler. Little bit bigger and better all around, and hungrier for recognition.

    Hopefully, the 49ers can be Sugar Ray Leonard on Sunday – half a step too fast, and too smart to stand still and trade blows.

    January 13th, 2014 10:18 am

  11. Gopal

    Having said that, I thought the 2011 49ers were like Winky Wright – all peek-a-boo defense and jabs.

    The 2012 Niners were like Bernard Hopkins – still savvy, hard-nosed and defense minded, but with sneaky bursts of offense coming from unexpected places.

    January 13th, 2014 10:23 am

  12. Mark M

    River boat Ron prepared his team poorly. You can’t come out all jacked up and emotional without the proper focus. It really cost his team a number of early mistakes and stupid penalties. It could have been the difference. But of course, the biggest difference is that the Niners know how to win games like these.

    Perhaps the most dread I feel about this upcoming Seattle game is having to stomach Aikman and Buck as the announcing team again. This will make 3 weeks in a row we have to watch these clowns completely whiff in their field analysis and penalty explanation. I find myself waiting for them to catch up and see what most people must have seen.

    For instance, the Harbaugh penalty for running on the field was due to clock mismanagement by the refs, not wanting a review of the TD play which happens automatically. Plus the early roughing penalty which was a clear cut cheap shot gets Aikman’s ire for being ridiculous. This is the man who sat and watched the Packers secondary maul our receivers the week before and say mostly nothing about it. Finally, how many times does Troy have to say “this is a big 3rd down” in the second half of a playoff game before FOX wises up and finally realizes it’s due to the fact that he has NOTHING ELSE TO SAY. These guys add nothing and are an incompetent distraction.

    Go Niners!!!

    January 13th, 2014 10:48 am

  13. Dennis

    3 straight appearances in the conference championship game. Maybe Harbaugh knows what he is doing after all.

    January 13th, 2014 2:17 pm

  14. mendozaline

    Your answer to Parnell was somewhat unconvincing to me.
    Before the Packers game you criticized the Packer defensive coach.

    “And get this, their defensive coordinator, Dom Capers, has a great reputation but he’s overrated.

    Or maybe modern football has passed him by.”

    Too harsh and personal for my taste.
    Now, when your columns reveal that the modern game may have passed you by, you reply “just you try it.”

    I liked it better when you followed up a spectacularly incorrect prediction with “I’ve made a million mistakes in the past, I’ll make a million more.”

    January 13th, 2014 2:34 pm

  15. Stan

    Too personal? LOL… I wish Lowell would cut it loose even more. “The game has passed Lowell by”…lol, Football? They still throw and pass and kick..just as in 1956 or 1916. The only difference? today’s’ players are so obviously loaded up on HGH,Testosterone and derivatives. They are as crooked as a dogs hind legs.

    They are paid millions and billions in total and make a living smashing other guys brains in or at least as coaches making that the goal, and they CAN’T TAKE A QUESTION???!…poor babies.

    January 13th, 2014 6:03 pm

  16. Stan

    I hope my tears for them don’t mar the finish on their Ferrari….

    January 13th, 2014 6:05 pm

  17. Max

    Apropos of your retort to Parnell: Lowell, you’re pretty darn tuff yourself!
    Next, at the risk of appearing presumptuous and perhaps pretentious (not my intent) I would very much like to see you or Grant do a column on the intangibles of what looks to be shaping up as the new 49er dynasty. Now, I understand that by definition intangibles are difficult to write about, let alone pin down. Unlike stats, they are not quantifiable (though we try to digitalize and quantify them anyway when we say things like, “On a scale of one to ten, ten being the best, how would you rate the 49ers’ character as a team?”) – but isn’t this one reason that makes them worth contemplating and writing about? This and the fact that it’s the intangibles that cause a prognosticator (not to be confused with a fornicator, Stan) to say a team will win when statistics indicate that they will lose. Anyhow, with us going up against Seattle this week I thought the timing for such an article might be good.

    January 13th, 2014 7:03 pm

  18. MRO

    “The toughest playoff schedule you could imagine”??

    What?!

    January 13th, 2014 7:41 pm

  19. MRO

    PhD – couldn’t disagree more. I hate it when writers, in this case Lowell, become fans. That’s not part of their job description. This sort of cheerleading is usually beneath Lowell but maybe he’s trying to garner a lot comments (cheerleading tends to accomplish this) for the blog.

    January 13th, 2014 9:33 pm

  20. asm

    Can’t wait to read your pre-game column for the 49ers-Seahawks. Any tidbit you can share now on the 49ers chances?

    January 13th, 2014 9:41 pm

  21. CohnZohn

    MRO, I hope I wasn’t cheer leading. I wrote enthusiastically about an impressive 49ers’ win, which they deserved. And I think they have a good chance in Seattle. My life goes on one way or another. They play them. I write them.

    January 13th, 2014 11:08 pm

  22. BeeGee

    Beating the Seahawks will require two things — corralling Lynch on defense and avoiding turnovers on offense. If the 49ers can do these two things, they will win.

    January 14th, 2014 8:06 am

  23. Stan

    You deleted ANOTHER of my posts? Now why?

    January 14th, 2014 11:49 am

  24. CohnZohn

    Stan, don’t be so touchy. You get more posts on here than I do.

    January 14th, 2014 11:58 am

  25. Stan

    That’s true. On both counts.

    January 14th, 2014 12:03 pm

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